Cutting the cord: future mobile broadband tech
How internet on the go is going to get much faster
Wireless telephony is undergoing a revolution, with technology and implementation philosophy each holding the other back in turn as the industry struggles towards wireless nirvana.
Engineers have spent the last few decades squeezing more data into the same wireless bandwidth, a process that is deep into the realm of diminishing returns. Meanwhile, regulators are loosening rules about what technologies can be deployed by whom, allowing the engineers to exploit new techniques that are defining the standards that will carry the next few decades.
Mobile telephony was predicated on the ability to make voice calls without wires, but the next generation of wireless standards consider voice calling to be a peripheral function. Instead, data takes central stage. Voice is, after all, just another kind of data. The wireless standards used for telephony today still have a separate channel for voice connections, but LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) are both data networks designed to carry broadband data which might incorporate the occasional voice call too - a clear change of focus for the so-called fourth generation (4G) of mobile technologies.
Downloading some history, very slowly
Data was very much an afterthought in the design of the original mobile telephone - the first car phones could be connected to a modem which would squawk down the line at a horribly slow speed. In the UK, tech corporation ICL fitted all its engineers' cars with such modems, and phones to go with them, but it never managed to get a data service working reliably over a network that was ill equipped to handle mission-critical data.
Second-generation technology GSM wasn't a lot better, so wireless data remained something for the desperate specialist despite the launch of Wap (Wireless Application Protocol). Wap promised to deliver the internet on the move, a promise that was made though legendary TV ads that have actually been blamed for killing Wap by setting unrealistic expectations:
There followed a sequence of steps in which the industry repeatedly deluded itself that as soon as data connections could be made slightly faster, users would leap to the wireless internet - and be delighted to pay for it.
In the process of trying to make OFDM more palatable to a non-comms audience, you seem to have missed the real advantage of the technique. The real beauty of OFDM is the flexibility given by so many orthogonal low-bandwidth sub-carriers: you can avoid the problem of frequency-selective fading for one user (mitigating their bad channel) by moving their allocation in the spectrum. This leads to much more efficient usage of spectrum, and better channels for all. It is excellent at adapting to nasty channel conditions in slowly-changing channels*.
I'm not really sure what you're getting at with regards to "solving" the problem of "timing". If you're referring to inter-symbol interference, which is indeed a concern, then OFDM doesn't directly solve this by "putting [chunks] in different frequencies" - but what it does do is ensure that the symbol rate on each individual component frequency is low enough that ISI can be mitigated easily. But if you're referring to interleaving, which does indeed spread "chunks" of data amongst frequencies, then that helps solve a different problem: the issue of losing bursts of data in frequency-specific fades.
On the down side, OFDM really isn't good in channels with a great deal of doppler shift (since it breaks the orthogonality between the sub-carriers) - making it non-ideal for use in fast-moving vehicles, for instance, without specific counter-measures.
8390? shouldnt that be 8310?
Good article, but as this article seems to have a UK slant to it.. the 8310 should have been the phone that was mentioned as being the first with GPRS in the UK. The 8390 was not even the first phone in the US with GPRS, a motorola timeport was, if i remember correctly.
Jobs - because the iPhone wasnt a world first in any area.
"mobile data is all about ..."
That's the 64billion dollar question, isn't it.
Is it about seeing the same internet as at home (or in the office), when you're on the move (nb on the move, *not* just away from base but stationary at a WiFi hotspot).
Or is it about the mobile web, about some selection of significant websites recognising that there are going to be as many folk viewing them on "mobile internet devices" (phones, PDAs, maybe netbooks) as there are on PCs, and that their website designs should reflect that (eg no Flash).
It isn't about "m-commerce" yet, or about "location dependent services", and folks have been trying that for a decade or so. Mind you, Google has recently changed the market rules, as it sometimes does, with Google Maps for Mobile and the things you can do with that.
Yahoo nearly works on my S60 mobile in Opera Mini. BBC news has a "low graphics" version too. Google Maps for Mobile is fantastic, though without a GPS it sometimes gets confused (but that's probably not Google's fault).
But not everyone does so well. Obviously anyone designing in Flash has wasted their time even more than usual. Some sites that you would imagine might be of particular interest to those out and about are so full of big-screen rubbish and scripts and so on that they are useless on a small screen device, mobile or otherwise. Classic examples would include weather forecasts from the Met Office and traffic reports from the Highways Agency.
So, what exactly is the killer app for mobile broadband? How is it going to make money for the cellcos, so they can pay for all that extra bandwidth to all those new cells?
I know, we could do location-dependent downloaded-on-demand high-definition video ringtone subscription service. Yeah, that'd work. Where's the Dragon's Den number.
Well? You got any better ideas?
Handset or PC?
To me the main reason that data on 2G/3G etc. has not really taken off is that most content is not suitable for a phone handset.
When WAP first came out, most web content was too complex and there were attempts to produce WAP portals which would offer cut down content suitable for the handsets.
At that point most web content would have displayed well on my EEE PC (if it had existed then).
Now content is so rich and so loaded with fancy video and special effects that I struggle on my EEE PC and my older portable to view the website in the way that the cutting edge design intended.
Nice on my new 1440 * 900 Dell portable, though :-)
Not much good on a phone handset :-(
For me, mobile data is all about freeing portable PCs from fixed ADSL/cable connections.
You can get the rich content you have come to expect when you are away from your cosy nest.
Now if only the coverage, reliability, bandwidth etc. etc. wasn't totally crap. (Speaking as a Virgin customer).
If I want to talk to someone or send a text message I use my phone.
For getting serious data off t'Internet I use a PC.
Then again, I am from the keyboard generation and can't think through my thumbs.